Rating:1 star out of 5
There’s a reason Taylor Lautner barely managed to keep his role after the first Twilight movie: the guy is about as versatile as a wooden plank. There’s no denying our young were-man’s got a killer six pack, and though we applaud his conscientious trips to the gym, this 19 year-old actor/model still has an arduous road to travel before becoming the action star he’s reportedly being groomed into.
In Abduction, Lautner takes on the role of Nathan, a hormonally charged teenager with (unconvincing) anger management issues and a penchant for making googly eyes at his classmate and next door neighbour, Karen (Lily Collins in desperate need of an eyebrow trim).
Nathan’s father (Jason Issacs) is a hard-nosed maniac who subjects him to a variety of martial arts training, while his mother (Maria Bello) spends her time trying to pacify the two angsty men in her house. When Nathan gets paired up for a school assignment with a newly single Karen (she eventually dumps her douche bag boyfriend), the two start to get greater tingly feelings for one another. Just when things are about to get heady, Nathan inexplicably stumbles upon a website for missing children, discovers he’s actually adopted and realizes his complicated past.
Long story short: His adoptive parents are killed, the CIA gets involved and there’s apparently an evil Eastern European (Michael Nyqvist) who’s trying to use Nathan to blackmail his real father into handing over an incriminating list of names. And to answer the mother of all questions about the film: No, technically nobody gets kidnapped.
Granted Hollywood doesn’t demand much of its action stars (re: Arnold Schwarzenegger and a post-couch jumping Tom Cruise), but there’s still a minimum threshold to fulfill, specifically the ability to have more than one facial expression. Lautner, unfortunately, maintains the same stoic, puffy look throughout the entire movie. Although he seems to have recovered from his allergy to shirts ala the Twilight series and remains fully clothed for a good portion of the film, we’d much rather watch him flex his pecs than be subjected to 100 odd minutes of his painful acting in Abduction.
The movie is supposedly a Lautner vehicle, but all he ends up doing really is highlighting how bad everything else is around him. Even when throwing punches and delivering admittedly decent roundhouse kicks, the kid has almost zero screen presence. The rest of the cast turn is abysmal performances – not hard to understand considering the sub-par script and embarrassing dialogue. Playing a double-crossing CIA agent, Alfred Molina’s character would have appeared rather intriguing on paper, but his considerable charm is completely lost somewhere between Lautner’s constipated facial contortions and a pair of under-aged teens humping each other on a moving train.
Poorly paced and atrociously executed, Abduction takes an agonizing hour to establish a semblance of a story and then spends the remaining time descending into made-for-non-primetime-television mediocrity. Director John Singleton (2 Fast 2 Furious, Shaft), who seems to have used up all his talent 20 years ago on the Oscar nominated Boys n the Hood, has essentially created a C-grade monster that will haunt our wildest nightmares long after the credits have rolled. Seriously, ludicrous sparkly vampires or not, we’re better off re-watching the entire Twilight franchise back to back.